Cultural preservation from a scientist?
By Heidi Wicks
John Wejitu Jeddore is a scientist, but he also happens to be an activist for Mi'kmaq culture.
The disciplines may seem to come from different worlds, but Mr. Jeddore is seeking a way to interweave the two after he walks away with his B.Sc. (biochemistry) this spring.
"I did folklore years ago with Janice Tulk, who has a large interest in Mi'kmaq culture and that definitely influenced me with regards to sharing my culture," said Mr. Jeddore, who produces a Mi'kmaq Word of the Day video series on his YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/dontsleepsound?ob=0&feature=results_main.
He believes that although it seems unlikely, cultural awareness is something he'd like to implement in his career. He's hoping to pursue medicine, where he would focus on cultural sensitivity.
"Many of our elders are not comfortable seeing doctors because they fear being persecuted for using traditional medicines – and this comes from a lack of education on both ends of the spectrum. I think sharing my experiences with others in that discipline can help see them from an Aboriginal person's point of view, but I could also speak with these elders and try to share my knowledge of Western medicine with them so we could have a better doctor-patient relationship."
Although Memorial's Aboriginal affairs representation is already thorough, Mr. Jeddore could think of areas that could be expanded. When elected as the Aboriginal Students' Representative for MUNSU and then later for the provincial component of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), he was provided a platform to voice his concerns on behalf of present and potential Memorial students.
"In my years here at Memorial I was lucky to see a number of changes occur which benefitted our people," he reflected. "I have met some amazing people who have made my experience here an unforgettable one and it has shown me the importance of post-secondary education and the positive impact it has on anyone who chooses to pursue it."
Mr. Jeddore is the first post-secondary graduate from the Miawpukek First Nation people of Conne River on Newfoundland's south coast, making him an inspiration for future generations of Aboriginal students coming to university.
"We are very lucky to attend an institution that listens to the Aboriginal population and is eager to work with us to make the university a better place for all its students."